Concerto No. 6 for violin and orchestra (Old Brass) (2002)

Concerto No. 6 for violin and orchestra (Old Brass) (2002)

Frank Lloyd Wright's plantation in Beaufort, South Carolina

Three movements - 35 min.
Instrumentation " 1. Fl/1. Ob/2. Bsns/2. Fr, Hrns/strings

Download free orchestral score below

Violin Concerto No. 6 (Old Brass)

During a lovely visit to a plantation in South Carolina designed by architect Frank Lloyd
Wright in Fall of 2002, I was inspired with the principal ideas for a new concerto. I
wanted to somehow "plant" the music I wished to create, right there at the plantation. The
buildings and layout were largely hexagonal so I thought of groupings in six note musical
phrases, as well as measures in 6/8 time. I also developed what I call six sided musical
ideas with the feeling of hexagon shapes taking place within the music swinging back and
forth between the feel of counts in two, and phrases in groups of three to create a musical
shape of a hexagon. I tried to apply these very natural groupings of music notation in
ways that Wright spoke of in his desire for the six sided shape to comfortably interface
with nature. These ideas make up most of the 1st movement.

For the slow 2nd movement, I wanted to concentrate on how Wright's vision of a "black
water" lake was instrumental in his overall layout of the South Carolina plantation. After
concentrating on the lake for sometime, the combinations of the black, gray and dark
green water slowly won me over so to speak, and after a while, I found it very beautiful.
Mysterious, as "the South" can be, but hauntingly rich in another kind of serene beauty
that I notice a lot in this region of the world. I wanted to develop the colors I saw in to
musical harmonies. And the vision of paddle boats floating through the trees full of
Spanish Moss dangling down in the swampy lake was the artistic muse for the music.
The 3rd movement is a six measured length theme, cycling back to pick up on the
hexagonal shape aspect again of the first movement. This theme however is developed as
a fugue, applying the traditional rules of fugal writing, a single fugue in six parts for the
most part. This is followed by a solo violin cadenza which will be improvised from the
previous material, and then the final coda is a multiple part fugue combining all the major
themes of all three movements overlaying each other for the final statement.
Old Brass is a "southern' term relating to a person of both African and Native American
heritage. Wright named his plantation "Auld Brass." And there is something I appreciate
in Wright's vision as well. I have always embraced the philosophy that once a person
impacts their creativity with the natural circumstances which surround them, then there is
potential for that art to interface more naturally in to the world.
Mark O'Connor

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updated 3 years ago